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Fertility discussion key for young patients

CCH Newsletter - Spring 2012

'B' is for basketball, 
not baby

When a 16-year-old male is diagnosed with cancer, he isn’t thinking of what he’ll name his first child. He just wants to know if he’ll live and how long it will be before he can return to workouts with his sports team.  

Anna Franklin, M.D.

Fertility is the last thing on his mind. But it’s at the forefront for Anna Franklin, M.D.

Franklin, assistant professor at 
MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, opened the institution’s fertility clinic in 2010. She is joined by nurse practitioner Donna Bell.

Together, they consult with AYA patients about:

  • their personal risk of infertility due to cancer treatment,
  • options available for fertility preservation, and
  • financial resources to help with out-of-pocket expenses for fertility preservation.

In addition, Franklin is developing studies that will track patients’ fertility status after treatment and investigate which methods prove to be more accurate predictors. By collecting better data, she hopes to form more precise risk assessments for patients before starting treatment.

Broadening access

Recent technology has broadened fertility opportunities for patients, even those who haven’t reached puberty. Although some preservation techniques are still considered experimental, such as ovarian and testicular tissue banking, Franklin wants patients to be able to access those services through referrals from the clinic.

“We hope that every physician initiates a discussion about fertility with a patient before treatment begins,” she says. “Beyond that first conversation, our clinic serves as a resource to help guide patients step by step through the planning process. We want them to know their options and help them make the best choice.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center